Barbara Mikulski | WYPR

Barbara Mikulski

Mikulski.Senate.gov

Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski bade farewell to the U.S. Senate recently, concluding 45 years in elective office and projecting the next phase of her life.

"You know when people vote for you, it’s not only that they’re sending you to Washington or City Hall," she said. “They’re giving you a vote of confidence that you will be their voice, that you will be their vote, that you will be at their side and on their side.”

Rachel Baye

When it comes to women in politics, Maryland has been a national leader for decades. It was the first state to have a bipartisan women’s legislative caucus, and it ranks seventh nationwide in terms of the portion of women in the state legislature.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski is a large part of the reason for Maryland’s legacy of woman leadership, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. A 30-year Senate veteran, Mikulski is known as the “dean” of women in the chamber and a leader on women’s rights.

Mikulski is retiring when her term ends in January, and on Tuesday, Maryland voters elected Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen to fill her seat. The result is Maryland’s first all-male congressional delegation since 1971.